Service DNA | Inquirer Business

Service DNA

/ 02:33 AM November 15, 2015

PRONOUNCED identity. Distinct characteristics. Clear cut attributes. Marketing experts invest a lot on building service reputation through hybrid branding. Products are packaged in strategic ways to stir excitement and invade wallet share. It’s everywhere – billboards that capitalize on competitive edge, ad placements that compel you to buy and the flood of online blasts in social media that challenge your choices to purchase.

What’s in a logo? Does the Coca-Cola trademark signal refreshment? Does the SM insignia convey sprawling bonding space for families? Is the Mercedes Benz emblem a stamp of prestige? Will the Disney badge ensure you of happy memories? Consumers have symbolically associated qualities that resonate powerfully with the flash of a logo. The challenge lies in living up to what’s being hyped and promoted. It becomes the ‘moment of truth’ encounter that either enhances or shatters service strategy.

One research in Janelle Barlow and Paul Stewart’s book, Branded Customer Service states that 66 percent of the preference for a brand is driven by emotional elements – even if consumers believe they are making rational decisions. Consider buying condiments in a grocery. The ingredient of soy sauce and vinegar that’s available on the shelf is literally the same for all. But one housewife will be quick to select a certain brand simply because it’s the same brand her mother used for cooking when she was growing up and she claims that it’s actually akin to experiencing the culinary delights of her childhood days. In this case, guess what she was actually buying? Pleasant memories.


Consider the Kapuso and Kapamilya network competition. If you are a fan of ABS-CBN, chances are you’d flip channels and indulge in all the hoopla of the Aldub phenomenon but something in you will tune back to channel 2 afterwards. This is prompted by your loyalty to the station, perhaps because many times in the past, you’ve been emotionally moved by the inspiring stories of ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya?’ and it simply stuck! In the same vein, a die-hard Kapuso will have fun lurking on an episode of Your Face Sounds Familiar in the rival network but would eventually revert to channel 7 because of the countless times he had hearty laughs with Bubble Gang… and yes, that also stuck!


Intelligent and would-be patrons are tired of useless sloganeering. The Customer is King, The Customer is no. 1, Kayo ang Boss, to name three, because they’re merely seen as hype. Staff behavior of the service organization must be consistent with what’s being advertised. They directly comprise the service DNA. If not, it will be very difficult for your target audience to distinguish what you do from what everybody else does. It’s all about ‘who you are’ and ‘what you stand for’ and the reality of ‘what you do’ and ‘what you deliver,’ to quote further from the same book mentioned above.

Some have taken risks in their branding strategies. One local FM radio station that plays a lot of old jazz and throwback music has the tagline, “not for everyone.” At first, this may sound a bit alienating. But probably they were aiming for a consistent and sustainable point of differentiation. This is in contrast to SM’s “we’ve got it all for you” matched by 30-minute intervals of on-the-job chanting ‘happy to serve’ punctuated by three claps at their Hypermart stores. This becomes customer service brand in action.

The brand warfare is certain to intensify with industry leaders and challengers to the throne trying to outdo each other when it comes to high impact packaging and strategies to trumpet their messages in the market arena. For big service establishments , the ideal equilibrium is achieved when we in essence, we can tell the customer that we are big enough to meet his business needs and at the same time, small enough to know him by name. But when push comes to shove, as service guru Ron Kauffman teaches, “Lousy service undermines great product while winning service overcomes weak product.” The sad story is when people know you exist but do not have strong opinions of your strengths. Satisfaction is uneven. They do business with you when experience is good but can be easily lured by competition when matched or offered more. What we’re gunning for is preference which evolves later on to loyalty. The kind where the customer can confidently endorse you already to others.

All customer interactions matter. Let them be spectacular moments that make them feel great about doing business with you and make you proud to belong to a winning service culture.

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